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Female patients experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV) now have access to free, on-site family law, domestic violence and child protection legal advice at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).
Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) Solicitor Gail Shearer said the new service would save lives.
“On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia,” she said.
“It is incredibly dangerous for women experiencing domestic and family violence to seek legal advice and get the help they need to leave that situation safely.
“The research shows that these women are more likely to tell a health professional first.”
In early 2017, PAH employed two DFV Training Coordinators to train staff on how to recognise signs of DFV and when they should refer patients to the Social Work Department.
Ms Shearer said the hospital-based Health Justice Partnership was the next step, with staff now able to refer patients for legal advice and support including advice on how to get a protection order.
PAH Director of Social Work Sue Cumming said last financial year PAH recorded 818 presentations of domestic violence related to spouse or partner episodes, which were more than two patients every day.
“We know that this figure underestimates the true number of patients affected by domestic and family violence who present at PAH,” she said.
“The experience of domestic and family violence can have serious impacts on a person’s physical, psychological and emotional health at a personal level.
“We are committed to improving our response to the needs of all patients who have experienced any form of domestic and /or family violence and the presence of WLSQ at PAH will help towards this.”
The new service was funded by the Federal Government as part of the Women’s Safety Package.